Let them eat cake

With the demand for the cupcake market increasing in the UAE (Sugar Daddy’s, Kitsch Cupcakes, Magnolia Bakery, Fondue Chocolates and more), it was a challenging task for London-based interior design firm, Carbon, to design Bloomsbury’s,  inspired by Bea’s of Bloomsbury, a London-based fresh food café, which opened in Abu Dhabi recently.

“Bloomsbury’s design reflects the brand presence in Abu Dhabi and UAE. We know the cupcake market is saturated, so we needed to create a design that people fell in love with instantly,” said Go Sugimoto, co-founder, Carbon. The brief given to its founders, Sugimoto and Ahmed Ansari, was for a cupcake kiosk in a mall, with a kitchen, to bake, on full display.

When Carbon was approached, a basic colour palette of red, white and black was already selected by the client, Tablez, owned by Shafeena Yusuff Ali, and the general site was identified.

Carbon had already worked on the design of the parent firm — Bea’s of Bloomsbury — in London.

“Bloomsbury’s is an international child, but it has a new brand in Abu Dhabi, so we had to be very much at the frontline of design,” said Sugimoto.

The cupcake kiosk is located inside Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. It was within a triple height mall atrium with shops and kiosks on all sides.

The site conditions had restrictions on circulation space, unobstructed views from existing shops, maximum heights, safety and security, and limited construction hours.

“We knew it had to be more than a simple counter with stools,” said Ansari. Carbon’s design solved these problems by enclosing the kiosk to draw customers to the branded area. When designing Bloomsbury’s, Carbon wanted to create the ‘Bloomsbury’s experience’, one of theatre and drama.

“We see the built environment of Bloomsbury’s as the stage in which the baking and icing of the cupcakes are performed. The display of cupcakes is the main feature and the coming and going of customers adds to the drama and spectacle,” Ansari added.

“Overall, the kiosk stands as a dramatic theatre set for the colourful cupcakes which are the star of the show,” said Sugimoto.

Ansari added Tablez already had its logo, damask (reversible fabric) fabrics and wallcovering decided, along with how the design would be influenced by Victorian culture. He said it was not trying to be stuffy, instead having a modern approach. “It was never going to be a typical cupcake kiosk,” he said.

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